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Red Cross, American Cancer Society encouraging blood donations as cancer patients resume treatment

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 7:44 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Two of the country’s leading health organizations, the American Red Cross and American Cancer Society, are teaming up to encourage people to donate blood as cancer patients return to treatment.

“I think the pandemic shined a light on the burden cancer patients face and struggles they’ve gone through in the past year,” said David Kolovson, a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society said COVID-19 forced many patient visits and procedures to be delayed or canceled to reduce the risk of exposure. Blood donations are key as care resumes.

“The need for blood in cancer treatment is important and often an untold story,” Kolovson said.

He said cancer patients use one-quarter of the blood supply. As more people need blood, the supply must grow as well but the Red Cross is facing an emergency need for platelets. The shortage can impact cancer patients who rely on transfusions.

“For chemotherapy, a blood transfusion may give them relief from some symptoms that can help improve their quality of life,” he said.

Some types of chemo can damage bone marrow and reduce platelet production. The Red Cross says it’s continuing to see strong demand for blood and has some concerns about keeping up throughout the summer.

“A shelf life just for a regular blood type is 52 days so we have to replenish the hospital shelves,” said Jim Gilloon, the American Red Cross Communications Regional Manager.

Red Cross donation centers are continuing to follow COVID safety procedures and taking donations by appointment. You can learn more or sign up to donate, HERE.

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